ORIGINAL REPORTING: Utilities’ Distributed Energy Resources Strategies
How California's utilities are mapping their grids for distributed resources; Utilities and DER companies are working together to understand where the grid can handle more customer-sited resources
Herman K. Trabish, Feb. 27, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Establishing more granular values for DER is proving more challenging than expected but the shareholders described here continue to work at it.
Delivering electricity to everyone, all the time, is no small job — and the rise of distributed energy resources is making it exponentially more challenging. California’s electricity system was built to deliver power from a few hundred central station power plants. But the rapid growth of rooftop solar in the state means that thousands of new generators are being added each week, putting strains on distribution systems originally designed for one-way power flows. If this growth in distributed energy resources (DERs) is to continue, utilities must better understand where customer-sited resources can be added to their grids without causing reliability problems.
In the state’s integration capacity analysis (ICA) proceeding, engineers from the state’s three big investor-owned utilities (IOUs) are addressing that question — working with DER providers to develop a methodology to identify where DERs can connect to the distribution system, and how much each feeder can handle. Those findings will be made public and inform a parallel proceeding on how to monetize the value of the DERs. In responding to detailed, technical questions from DER vendors, utility engineers have learned what features of the locational value, called hosting capacity analysis (HCA), are most important. In a collaborative atmosphere, DER providers in the ICA working group have developed analytic tools that will help with DER interconnection and integration… click here for more